Habitat does not influence breeding performance in a long-term Barn Owl Tyto alba study

Meek, William R.; Burman, Peter J.; Nowakowski, Marek; Sparks, Tim H.; Hill, Ross A.; Swetnam, Ruth D.; Burman, Niall J.. 2009 Habitat does not influence breeding performance in a long-term Barn Owl Tyto alba study. Bird Study, 56 (9). 369-380.

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Capsule This study examines the relationship between habitat variables and various aspects of breeding and foraging performance for 257 Barn Owl breeding attempts involving both released and wild birds, at 86 different nest-sites over a 14-year period. Aims The study aimed to: (1) provide evidence for or against the importance of foraging habitat in Barn Owl breeding performance; (2) enable identification of areas which can, and those which cannot, be expected to sustain Barn Owl populations; (3) inform the compilation of any future guidelines such that Barn Owl release schemes are more likely to succeed; and (4) allow the revision of untested concerns in terms of the likely survival or otherwise of Barn Owls in a given area. Methods Three data sources are used to assess the proportions of various habitat types and lengths of linear features in the vicinity of each nest: (1) The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology Land Cover Map; (2) Ordnance Survey Strategi dataset; and (3) Agricultural Census data. These are linked to various aspects of breeding performance. Results Despite the size of the dataset, the number of significant correlations between habitat type and aspects of Barn Owl breeding success was similar to that expected by chance. Sites with more unimproved grassland within 1 km of the nest did not differ from those with less, except by a significant advancement of first-egg date. Conclusion The paucity of significant results may be evidence that Barn Owls are in fact rather catholic and adaptable in their habitat requirements, and not as dependent upon large areas of Field Vole (or other) habitat as has often been stated.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 3 - Managing Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in a Changing Environment > BD - 3.2 - Develop and test practical measures to ameliorate the effects ...
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pywell
ISSN: 0006-3657
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 18 Feb 2010 16:24 +0 (UTC)

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